The Growing Connection between Holograms and Concerts, Explained

Paul Oakenfold, Coachella 2013 -- Indio, CA | Photo by Thomas Hawk (Flickr/Creative Commons)
Paul Oakenfold, Coachella 2013 — Indio, CA | Photo by Thomas Hawk (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Remember that time Tupac performed on stage with Snoop Dogg at Coachella back in 2012, even though he had passed away sixteen years prior?

The truth is that it was actually just a very convincing 2-D hologram projection of him on a piece of glass, and that was only the beginning for this amazing technology. This event remains one of the major breakthroughs in the effort to combine music and augmented reality technologies, though a highly controversial one.

Why is this relevant?

Well, last year’s Digital Innovations in Music Summit (note: the linked site seems to have been updated for an upcoming summit), which was held on February 25 and 26 in Nashville and featured many key players in the music industry, predicted that virtual and augmented reality technologies (VR/AR) are going to play an increasing role in music culture in the coming years.

Furthermore, Digi-Capital predicts a “$108 billion VR/AR market by 2021 (underperform $94 billion, outperform $122 billion)” — a huge increase in the market that only recently gained momentum.

With this coming shift toward a VR/AR-dominated society, it’s clear that the music industry will also be affected by these technologies, particularly in a higher amount of hologram concerts (according to summit attendee, entrepreneur and digital strategist Alex Moskov).

“Soon, ‘Seeing’ Kurt Cobain or Jimi Hendrix live in 2017 isn’t going to be as impossible as it seems.” — Alex Moskov

So, what are hologram concerts? What do all these intimidating technical terms mean?

Marxent Labs puts it simply:

  • Basically, augmented reality is where a computer alters the way you experience the world in real life (Pokémon GO uses this technology, although that trend ended back in 2016).
  • On the other hand, virtual reality actually attempts to simulate a new environment entirely (think of those goggle devices that block out the real world, such as the one shown below. Note: riding bicycles while using these is a terrible idea, but it does make for a great photo. Stay safe.).
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Girl Wearing Vr Box Driving Bicycle during Golden Hour | Photo by Sebastian Voortman (Pexels/Creative Commons)

Augmented reality and virtual reality technologies are very similar and will both play a role in the future of music, but augmented reality is the type that deals with holography.

Science Clarified defines holography as “a method of producing a three-dimensional (3-D) image of an object . . . The image it brings to life is referred to as a hologram, from the Greek word meaning ‘whole picture.’ Unlike a two-dimensional picture, a hologram allows a person to look ‘around’ and ‘behind’ its subject.

For now, technology only exists to make 2-D images appear 3-D, but the type of holographic projection seen in Star Wars is sure to follow.

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Hologram Earth | Photo by Kevin Gill (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Since the 2012 Coachella breakthrough, some other applications for this technology in the music world have been made, notably the movement to improve music education.

Music Everywhere, a team at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, is a great example of this. (I highly recommend going to their site and watching the quick video.)

As reported by Moskov, what you can expect to see in the future is long-deceased artists selling out “live” concerts, “performing” on stage and even interacting with the audience through the use of these technologies.

Think of that one musician you love that died too soon for you to ever see them play live. Now imagine being able to go to a concert of theirs decades after their death. That’s how amazing (and slightly scary) this all is.

Who knows? Someday you may even be able to play interactive hologram concerts from the comfort of your own home.

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